How are your Hands2Help quilts coming along? Have you, like some, finished yours already, or are they still in the planning stages? At this point, it's all good - there's still plenty of time. There's a linky party at the end of this post where you can link up and share your progress - be sure to take a look at what your fellow participants are working on!
This week we also have a guest blogger - Jean Kester, who blogs over at Layers of Hope - Quilting 911. Jean is the driving force behind one of last year's charities, and is here to tell us the story of how her charity started and grew. So without further ado, I'll let you see what she has to say!
Our Motto Is: Love for Our Unseen Heroes
Layers of Hope - Quilting 911's mission is to enhance the lives of 911 Telecommunications Operators (911 Dispatchers) and their families during times of illness, disaster, loss and tragedy by inspiring hope, faith and optimism with a quilt of warmth and comfort in order to make a positive influence in the lives of those who make a difference everyday, one quilt and one stitch at a time.
Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 began many years ago when my husband asked me to make him a quilt with Harley bandanas; it was one request that took five years in the making.
Shortly after that, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast of the United States and tore up places from Central Florida to Texas with most of the damage stemming to the failure of levee system in New Orleans and most of the damage along the coast of Mississippi. I was a police/fire 911 dispatcher at the time and I wanted to find a ride and go help.
However, my husband and I were raising three grandchildren, I was working full time, attending a local university full time and could not go. My husband suggested I make quilts for those who lost everything and that started the eight year progression to Layers of Hope - Quilting 911.
I reached out to the one man and organization I knew I could find answers from and that was Kevin Willett of 911 Cares/PSTC who not only teaches telecommunication classes, but started the drive to reach out to the unseen men and women in our field.
Kevin not only said yes, he found me an entire telecommunications department to make quilts for, and then he found me a New Orleans dispatcher whose little baby had to be in Texas and they couldn't see each other and then Gloria from Pass Christian, Mississippi whose story broke my heart and I quilted! That was in 2005.
I quilted for those on duty in the Virginia Tech tragedy, I have sent quilts to dispatchers whose homes were involved in flooding in New York, to dispatch centers who have lost members of their family (and believe me, dispatch centers are families), dispatchers enduring chemotherapy, dispatchers ill children, premature children, fire victims, tornado victims, I have sent quilts.
Then, the tragic shooting in July 12, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado happened and with a telecommunications center that had over sixty operators and I knew, I could no longer personally do this on my own, I had to ask for help!
I set up a Facebook page at the time and help came by the droves, quilters from all over the world sent so many quilts to the center that they were overwhelmed and we sent one to each operator and in turn the extras went to other first responders and surviving victims and families of the those lost.
Just over , the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and once again I asked for quilts and once again the need was met. Then 19 firefighters lost their lives in Yarnell, AZ in June 2013 and I knew we had to help and I needed a new name!
I reached out to my blog readers and asked for help to rename my blog and Facebook page and many great ideas were offered and I couldn't decide on just one, so I took some bits and pieces and added my own and Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 was born here and on Facebook.
All good stories have happy endings and this one is no exception. In May of 2013, Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma were devastated by tornadoes. Dispatchers from the Aurora center stepped forward and asked me how they could help and they knitted and crocheted blankets for the dispatchers who lost all in those cities.
I have, you have, together we make a difference and I will continue to reach out to those rarely seen and always heard during our darkest hours unseen heroes when they answer that call, "911, what are you reporting?"
Definitely an inspiring story, and a great example of how something that starts small can turn into something truly amazing! Unfortunately, Jean has had to suspend her mission temporarily to deal with family and health issues, but I certainly hope that she will be able to return soon to this amazing ministry!! Thank you, Jean, for sharing your story with us!!
And now it's time to link up with your own Hands2Help progress! You can link an old post, a new one, or a picture from Instagram or Flickr - it's all good! I can't wait to see what you've been working on...